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Amer Fort, Jaipur

The Amber Fort was built in the 16th century by Raja Man Singh. The construction of the Amber Fort was started by Man Singh I in 1592 and completed by his descendant Jai Singh I. The Amber Fort is built in red sandstone and white Amer Fortmarble. The palace complex has very interesting apartments, the likes of which are not to be found anywhere else in India, leave aside Jaipur. The rugged forbidding exterior of Amber Fort belies an inner paradise where a beautiful fusion of Mughal and Hindu styles finds its ultimate refinement. Painted scenes of hunting and war adorn the walls of the Amber Fort with precious stones and mirrors set into the plaster.

The fort has 4 sections; each with the premises and one has to climb up through the imposing stairway or else the broad aisle, where one can ride on the elephant back for royal feel. The main gate Surajpol that leads to the Jaleb chowk, which is the main courtyard from where one can walk up the stairway, that leads to the palace. Jaleb Chowk was also the area where returning armies were welcome and they would display their war earnings to the population at large.

Standing tall on the Delhi-Jaipur highway, the palace is located on a hillside, overlooking the Maotha Lake. Three charismatic rulers oversaw the construction of this monument. It was started by Raja Man Singh I, army commander of Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1592 and was completed by Mirza Raja Jai Singh and Sawai Jai Singh, over a period of about two centuries. Amber Fort, as it is commonly known, is a classic fusion of Mughal and Hindu architecture, beautifully built in red sandstone and white marble. You can climb up the hill to the Amber Fort (approx 15 minutes), or travel in royal style on elephant back. (Elephant rides cost INR 450 for four persons -one way) Jeep rides (Rs 150 per person - one way) are readily available. Trained tourist guides are also available.

Old Amber Palace
The Old Palace lies at the base of the Jaigarh Fort. This area was the original Amber before Man Singh I came along and went on a building spree. The early 13th century palace here is not very interesting as compared to the grand Amber Fort-palace, yet you could do with a visit. This Old Palace can be reached from the Amber Palace too – there's a stone path leading from the Chand Pol to these ruins at the base of the hill. The road is currently being restored. Here lie the remains of ancient Amber which include temples and crumbling palaces and patches of walls. The cobbled streets and broken down havelis (mansions) give it the aura of a medieval town. But these mute remnants of a bygone golden era seem to speak volumes.

Ganesh Pol & Suhaag Mandir
To the south of Diwan-i-Am lies an imposing gateway, the Ganesh Pol. The whole gateway has been very beautifully painted with vegetable colors using all the typical rajasthani motifs. The attraction of the gateway however is the carved statue of Lord Ganesh, the elephant-headed god. On the top of the gateway is the Suhaag Mandir, the chamber from where only the present queen was allowed to watch the events of the Hall of Public Audience from the marble jallis. From the Ganesh Pol steps lead to the beautiful garden or Charbagh, based on the Mughal pattern of gardens.

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